Story by Alyssa Jackson
Photos by Dawn J. Sagert
Gladys Harrold, a 97 year-old woman originally from Red Lion, tells stories of surviving the Great Depression, hitchhiking to Ohio when she was 13 to get a Bible, traveling throughout Europe, retiring three times and becoming an artist at 74 years young.
Her many accomplishments are what made her a perfect candidate for the Red Lion Area School District Hall of Fame, into which she is being inducted Friday evening. Harrold traveled from Jefferson, Texas, where she now lives in a house next to her daughter, Mary Castleman, to attend the ceremony.
Her granddaughter, Sherry Jensen, traveled with her as well. The three of them are very close: Castleman cooks for Harrold and makes sure she takes her vitamins, and Jensen spends a lot of time with her grandmother watching movies on “late-night television,” which Harrold boasts she can still stay up for, even though Castleman gently pointed out “late night” actually meant 8 p.m.
Gladys Harrold, 97, left, who lives in Jefferson, Texas, talks about her artwork during an interview Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016, in Spry while her granddaughter Sherry Jensen, center, of Lantana, Texas, and daughter Mary Castleman, also of Jefferson, look on. Dawn J. Sagert photo (Photo: York Dispatch)
Harrold still has family in York County and is staying with relatives in York Township while in town for the induction ceremony. All in all, six generations of her family will attend the big event to support “Mammy” Harrold.
The Red Lion Area School District Hall of Fame recognizes individuals who attended a public school in the district and have outstanding accomplishments related to their profession, occupation and services. Harrold was nominated by her great-granddaughter, Alisha Strayer.
Harrold has lived an exciting life. Born in 1919, she graduated from Red Lion Area Senior High School 80 years ago. She started school when she was 4 because her parents didn’t want her older sister to walk the mile to school alone.
“You can’t imagine what the Depression was like,” Harrold said. Her daughter, her granddaughter and her sister-in-law Elma Briggs pointed out that it helped make her the thrifty and mindful person she still is today, such as when she washes out zip-close baggies to re-use them.
“You mean cheap,” Harrold quipped back, laughing.
In high school, Harrold found a passion for art, eventually becoming the art editor for the yearbook committee. She pointed out with pride the 11 drawings she did that appeared in the 1936 yearbook. She said that during the Depression she went through burn pits to pick out charcoal to work with. Her dream was to attend art school, but graduating during the Depression meant going straight to work.
At 15, Harrold started working in a local sewing factory before she was sent home for being too young. In 1937, she married her first husband, Nelson Fitz, and helped him operate the family farm, produce stands and an ice cream store. Her art dreams were put on hold as she filled her free time with volunteer work with her high school reunion committee and her local church.
In the 1950s, Harrold started…
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